Sule Aygoren Carranza
FOR MOST PEOPLE, A NEW YEAR SIGNALS A FRESH START.
And given the way 2008 ended, I think most of us would welcome one.
It would be an understatement to say we kicked off this year on a down
note. The economy continued to plummet, causing businesses across
the board to retrench and consumers to tighten their purse strings. Home
foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies are rising and, in some markets,
reaching crisis proportions. The ranks of the unemployed ballooned by
632,000 in December alone, bringing the jobless rate to 7.2%.
The troubles in the financial market have caused lenders to think twice
about handing out money to borrowers, which has brought investment
activity to a near halt. Contributing editor Carl Cronan takes a look at the
state of the debt market for commercial real estate and what to expect this
year in the feature, “Looking for a Confidence Boost.”
The poor economy has also taken its toll on REIT stocks, which have
plunged in value over the past several quarters. Add to that reduced consumer and business spending—particularly travel—and the result has led
to lower earnings for hotels. Senior editor Maria Wood examines some of
the tactics hotel REITs are taking to survive the downturn—which will likely
flow into 2010—in “Wait Till the Year After Next.”
Meanwhile, the federal government has been trying to do everything in its
power to inject some life into the economy. Half of the $700 billion in TARP
funds has already been doled out to financial institutions, automotive companies and others. At press time, officials were pressing the Fed to distribute the
remaining $350 billion (and possibly more), and several business sectors—
including commercial real estate and, yes, the adult film industry—were lining
up for a share. It remains to be seen whether the name on the next check will
be Larry Flint or your local developer, but either choice would be interesting.
Ever the optimist, I can also point to some bright spots on the horizon.
For one, while it will take some time for President Barack Obama and his
staff to get their bearings, the administration certainly has an ambitious
agenda that could bode well for the economy and job growth.
Sometimes, downturns also present the best opportunity to revisit business strategies. In commercial real estate, the latest “it” sector seems to
be distressed assets. Not only are investors allocating more funds to these
opportunities, but service firms are also ramping up their efforts in this arena.
Read about it in our cover story, by managing editor Danielle Douglas.
Similarly, we at REAL ESTATE FORUM have decided to try a few new things,
too. As you flip through the pages of FORUM over the next few months, you’ll
notice some differences in our content, approach and appearance. Like
them? Hate them? Have any better ideas? Let us know (my email is below).
If all else fails, I guess we could hop on the bailout bandwagon. Is there
a lobbying group out there for overworked editors? Otherwise…Larry?
Sule Aygoren Carranza, Editor
GROUP PUBLISHER | Michael G. Desiato
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR | John Salustri
Editor | Sule Aygoren Carranza
Senior Editor | Maria Wood
Managing Editor | Danielle Douglas
Contributing Editors | Joseph Dobrian, Michelle Napoli, Ian Ritter,
Ryan G. Clark, Amy Wolff Sorter, Bob Howard, Brian K. Miller,
Carl Cronan, Erika Morphy, Debra Hazel, Robert Carr
Editorial Assistant | Antoinette Marrazzo
Executive Publisher | Gregg W. Christensen
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Manager, East Region | Robyn Gold
Manager, West Region | Andrew Orth
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Associate Art Directors | Andrew Kwasny, Nick Koutoufas
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